The Triangle and neighboring areas seem to be in an endless building boom of new roads, homes and schools. The last census showed that Wake County alone grew by nearly 50 percent.
Some towns more than tripled in size. Apex: 312-percent growth. Morrisville: 414 percent. And by far the largest: Holly Springs at 922 percent.
Wake County schools need to keep up. But there is a run on the most essential part of the project: land.
Thursday, school officials broke ground for the new Holly Springs High School, which is set to open in the fall of 2006. The land was purchased more than a year ago, and Wake County has to keep being aggressive.
Between now and 2020, school officials estimate that they will need to build about 60 new schools to keep up with the growth. They have the plan; now they have to find the land.
Swift Creek Elementary used to be the only elementary school on its block. But not anymore. Yates Mill is about a mile down Yates Mill Road, and Dillard Drive is about a mile away.
The three schools are unusually close to each other. But Wake County officials said they have to build where they can find land.
"It's very difficult to find land," said "Mike Burriss, assistant superintendent of facilities. "It's very difficult to find land that's undeveloped."
Wake Schools have mapped out a plan for 13 new schools by 2008. But so far, they only have land for five of those new schools.
"We compete with every other developer in the county," said "Clint Jobe, director of real estate services. "The folks who buy the shopping centers and the apartment complexes can sometimes afford to pay more than a school system can pay."
So, school officials are not just bargaining with the sellers.
"Now, what we have to do is go to the developer and the community and work with them and say: Let's develop a plan: this is the opportunity for the community, and this is the opportunity for the school site,'" Burriss said.
Another tactic: Wake County Schools can offer a portion of a sale as a charitable donation, so it is tax deductible for the seller.
If the school system can prove that there is no other land available in a particular area, it can have land condemned. That forces a seller to sell at fair market value. It is rare, but it has happened a few times in the last 10 years.
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